Britain’s Hamleys, where Queen Elizabeth bought toys for her children, is close to being bought by a Chinese retailer keen to get its hands on the world’s oldest toy shop.
Hong Kong-listed footwear retailer C.banner International Holdings (1028.HK) said in a statement that it was in advanced talks to acquire the 255-year-old treasure trove of toys, games and candy canes. A source with direct knowledge of the transaction told Reuters earlier on Thursday that a 100 million pound ($154.32 million) deal was due to be announced shortly.
The Chinese interest in Hamleys has come to light during President Xi Jinping’s pomp-laiden visit to London. British Prime Minister David Cameron is pitching the UK as the pre-eminent Western gateway for investment, hoping to seal deals worth $62 billion.
Hamleys is best known for its landmark shop on London’s Regent Street. The seven-floor toy emporium is a tourist attraction in its own right, where children dodge sprays of bubbles as they race inside to watch cheery demonstrators fire plastic airplanes across the foyer.
“If you’ve grown up in England, this is the big toy shop,” said Barry Young, 54, who brought his children for a treat after they recently moved back to Britain.
Discussions between C.banner and France‘s Ludendo Groupe, which has owned Hamleys since buying it in 2012 for a reported 60 million pounds, will be finalised in the near future, the Chinese company said.